BAGUIO CITY — Three small-scale miners died of suffocation inside the mining tunnels in separate towns of Abra and here in Benguet.
On June 11, in Mt. Bumurayok, Barangay Buneg, Lacub in Abra, miners identified as Junie Lingbaoan and Felix Rosario, both locals of Lacub and Federico Lang-odan of Bauko, Mt. Province lost consciousness due to the lack of oxygen inside the tunnel. The next shift of miners found them dead some hours later.
On the same day, another unidentified miner also died of suffocation in a tunnel in Mt. Capcapo, Baay-Licuan.
On June 12, miner Orlan Luis died also of suffocation due to gas poisoning inside the mining tunnel at Loacan, Antamok, Itogon, Benguet. The area was a former site of mining operations of Benguet Corporation. It was abandoned supposedly because it was mined out but later opened again by the company to small scale miners who are required to sell their produce to the company.
Gas poisoning and suffocation are frequent in the small-mining tunnels due to lack of appropriate gadgets and safety measures.
More and more people in these areas engage in small-scale mining activities despite warnings from the provincial government of Abra and the Provincial Environmental and Natural Resources Office (Penro) that pocket mining is illegal but the people opt to take the risk because of the high grade of gold here, the promising price of gold in the world market, the lack of gainful employment and poverty.
There are many cases of death among pocket miners in the barangay and most of them were not actually attributed to gas poisoning. Most were trapped or drowned inside flooded tunnels. Last March 29 this year, six miners were trapped inside the tunnels being operated by the Benguet Corporation after the walls collapsed because of flooding, only three of them were rescued.
Ernie Anton of Penro-Abra said that these small scale miners are illegal and that Lacub is under investigation regarding the incident. Still many reported and unreported accidents and untoward incidents in the small-scale mining areas of the said barangays including Bucay occurred affecting the local community. However no mitigating programs are in sight. (Northern Dispatch/Posted by Bulatlat.com)